Immersion programs and preserving endangered indigenous languages
Lira Gonzales, María Lourdes
The urgency of halting the erosion of their languages has compelled many indigenous groups to step up efforts not only to preserve them for posterity but also to revitalize them via language education so that they would once again serve as tools for communication. Immersion is the choice that many groups have taken to promote this revitalization. The aim of this paper is to review the relevant literature regarding successful indigenous languages; more specifically, we provide examples of two successful indigenous immersion programs (Maori and Hawaiian), then we describe the preschool and K-12 indigenous immersion programs in Canada, which has a checkered history of success and failure. We will then analyze the factors that may contribute to the lack of success of some Canadian indigenous immersion programs. We argue that lack of instruction on the structure and form of the language in some immersion programs as one possible source of its documented flaws.